National Council for Women (NCW) has recommended the replace the word “rape” with sexual assault in various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Women activists said the word “rape” was derogatory to women. Two of their recommendations are as follows:

1) The definition of rape should be widened and not be restricted to vaginal penetration. Oral and anal penetration, or even body contact, should be considered “sexual assault.”

2) Buying sexual favours (from sex workers) should also be considered sexual assault.

I oppose them on following grounds:

1) The word “rape” should be maintained as it is and shall continue to mean vaginal penetration as vaginal penetration can result in pregnancy and oral and anal penetration do not result in pregnancy. Rape is a serious crime. It is not derogatory to women. It is derogatory for the rapists. Replacing “rape” with “sexual assault” and clubbing together with other crimes will dilute the seriousness of rape.

2) When sexual favours are bought there is no assault.

NCW should stop demanding change in terminology. Calling a “widow” “wife of late so and so” or calling a “prostitute” “commercial sex workers” does not result in betterment. There is nothing derogatory about being a widow.

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